Sex – a matter of perspective

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I am sure that many readers have already concluded that I do not understand the role of sex in either organic or biotic evolution. At least I can claim, on the basis of the conflicting views in the recent literature, the consolation of abundant company.

– George C. Williams, Sex and Evolution, 1975

What’s sex all about? This question has been exercising biologists since well before Williams’s time, but in the 1970’s, with the rise of ‘gene-centrism’ and the related controversy over group selection, a succession of prominent authors grappled with the problem, trying to fit it with current evolutionary theory to no-one’s particular satisfaction. Males were deemed an impediment to a female’s efforts to maximise her reproductive output, time wasted on these feckless types resulting in her only passing on 50% of her genes per offspring. From the perspective of a ‘selfish gene’, meanwhile, getting into every offspring seems a preferable fate to only getting into half of them. On the basis of these apparent large costs, a cryptic offsetting benefit of corresponding magnitude was assumed. Like Godot, it is yet to appear.

Yet sex is widespread. All eukaryotes either do it now, or possess tell-tale signs that their recent ancestors did. Given that it appears costly to individuals, and genes, how did it evolve and why does it persist?

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Autophagy: Could it help to prevent COVID-19?

Disclaimer: This post is of speculative nature and should NOT be used as a substitute for medical advice.

Some at TSZ suggested that we all should unite, Darwinists and the rest (I guess), during this time of uncertainties and do something…

But, what could we do?

I have some data (weak though) I wanted  to use on an OP related to drugs that  could upregulate the enzyme (receptor) that provides the entry to the host cell for COVID-2019. But, no go for now…

So, could the autophagy help?

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Lockdown!

Share your experience, tips, advice, questions…

As it seems most communities world-wide are going into voluntary or enforced quarantine that involves staying at home and avoiding physical contact as much as possible, I thought we could have a thread where we could try a bit of mutual support by cheering each other up over the next few days, weeks, months… Who knows?

I don’t know: suggestions on films to watch, books to read, gardening tips, exercise ideas

Usual rules apply plus a guideline. Let’s be kind and supportive to each other.

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Viruses: another chicken and egg paradox?

As the COVID 19 hysteria is unfolding almost all over the world, many are asking the question:

Where did the viruses come from?

ID proponents, like Michael Behe, have gone on record saying that viruses were designed, in most cases they cause no harm, but their role in nature is not yet fully understood here.

On the other hand, the proponents of Darwinian theory of evolution claim that viruses evolved, because why would an omnipotent God/ID designed something harmful, like viruses? So, viruses must’ve evolved…

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Questions for Christians and other theists, part 8: the Trinity

One of the strangest doctrines in all of Christianity is the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine holds that there are three divine persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost — yet only one deity. Each of the three persons is fully God, and not just a part of God. A famous diagram known as the “Shield of the Trinity” compactly summarizes the idea:


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Amongst the billions of species today is evolution going on? No! Why not !

if evolutionism is the mechanism for biological changing of bodyplans then it must be a option it could happen today, and relative to billions of species, it should be happening to a powerful percentage. new population by the millions should be newly created with need for new scientific names. Yet i say there are none or less than six.  WHY? I say because evolutionism is not accurate as a mechanism . it never existed. other mechanisms exist. the great evidence against evolutionism is the very unlikely situation of it not having occurred in the last twenty years in great, or any, numbers. Very unlikely but i offer the issue.

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Intelligent Design explains Sex!

A thread for ID proponents to explain their alternative theory for biological phenomena.

Allan Miller has written an article on sex, proposing an evolutionary explanation for why almost all Eukaryota indulge in sex. In response to comments from evolution skeptics questioning his explanation, he challenges them:

OK, you ID types, what’s the Design explanation for sex? You need to explain why all eukaryotes have genes that are involved in meiosis, though some never actually perform meiosis, and in some, the genes are ‘broken’. And you need to explain the taxonomic distribution of asexuality – absent in mammals and birds, but increasingly found as one descends your imagined scala naturae – though intermittent sex remains the norm, even in single celled organisms.

Why? What purpose does it serve that is common to single celled protists and our favourite organism, the chimp? Why wasn’t everything designed to just reproduce asexually?

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List of Hot Air Skeptics

Alan seemed to insinuate in my last thread that I didn’t explain WHY I think skeptics are full of hot air.  So, in order to do so in a manner in which hopefully he can better understand, first I think I should start with a list of who these skeptic mouthpieces are, and then I can perhaps later fill in some of their statements, some of their backgrounds, and some of their beliefs.  I hope this will ease Alan’s concerns.  So, off the top of my head, here are some of the top ones I can think of.  Sort of a Hall of Fame of atheist windbags. Guys who know everything about the universe, because they tell you so. Should be a useful database that we can refer back to later in other conversations. More added later:

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Conscious Perception: Continuous or Discrete?

A short 9-page paper presents a model of conscious perception as a discrete process:

 

Time Slices: What Is the Duration of a Percept?

 

Abstract

We experience the world as a seamless stream of percepts. However, intriguing illusions and recent experiments suggest that the world is not continuously translated into conscious perception. Instead, perception seems to operate in a discrete manner, just like movies appear continuous although they consist of discrete images. To explain how the temporal resolution of human vision can be fast compared to sluggish conscious perception, we propose a novel conceptual framework in which features of objects, such as their color, are quasi-continuously and unconsciously analyzed with high temporal resolution. Like other features, temporal features, such as duration, are coded as quantitative labels. When unconscious processing is “completed,” all features are simultaneously rendered conscious at discrete moments in time, sometimes even hundreds of milliseconds after stimuli were presented.

(H/T J-Mac)

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Coronavirus: Evolution vs ID

Another deadly virus is just around the corner: coronavirus, as predicted by evolution…

Since it was predicted, what had been done to prevent it?

We have all sorts of experts visiting TSZ, such as immunologists, population geneticists, biochemists, and the like…

What have they done in this field?  How about ID?

What are you doing personally to protect yourself, and your family,  from another possible epidemic?

I have lived through SARS, wearing full protective gear for many days. My wife was doing initial screening at the hospital entrance, while few months pregnant…

Is same, or worse, yet to come?

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Why Skeptics Are So Full Of Hot Air.

Several years ago, at the beginning of 2016, on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe forums, there was a thread about driverless cars.  All the skeptics were going on about how great it was going to be, how it will be here in two years, five years at the most, how we will overcome all the “small” problems by 2017, maybe 2019 at the latest, blah, blah.  And at the time, I had told them, well, you may want to hold on a while, its not quite as easy as you think.  And how was that met?  By a barrage of insults, of you ridiculous troll, what do you know about anything, if you wouldn’t be so ignorant and just learn, can we just block this guy moderator, on and on it went… (typical skeptic fare).

That thread was viewed 117,000 times.  There was exactly ONE person who was adamant that their time frames were wrong, that we still have a long way to go.  And boy, they sure didn’t like that.  Looking back now at the litany of nonsense the skeptics spewed kind of makes me laugh now.  Its the same nonsense you see here at TSZ every day.  Now, in 2020, some of the most ardent skeptic cheerleaders have reluctantly finally started to admit, ok, yea, you was right, it was a a lot harder than we all said.

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Behe vs. Swamidass I, as “God and/or Evolution?” Time to yawn, politely applaud or cheer?

The biggest news of this week for the “conversation” this blog is in some small way a part of will likely be the discussion between Drs. Michael Behe and S. Joshua Swamidass in Texas. The answer for both men to the polemical question above is not “God w/out evolution”, but rather “God with evolution,” iow both God and evolution. So what else important is there left for them to disagree about? http://www.veritas.org/location/texas-a-m-university/

For Behe, “evolution” has a narrower meaning than it does for Swamidass. One key question, that likely won’t be asked, is: how wide is Swamidass’ meaning of “evolution” and where does it stop (i.e. what doesn’t ‘evolve’)? Is Swamidass, who somewhat incredulously claims to be neither a creationist nor an evolutionist, actually both? One of the biggest challenges unaddressed still by Swamidass regarding his evolutionism will be met when he starts describing or explaining the “limits of evolutionary theories”, rather than only “the great possibilities of evolutionary theories”, now as we live in a post-Darwinian, extended synthesis scenario.

We may nevertheless hope for some reconciliation, or even a moment or two of peace amidst an artificial storm in the USA involving “Intelligent Design”, evolution, and creationism. Those moments will likely constitute a rare pause in their otherwise contrary apologetics approaches, both taking a “public understanding of science” attitude of pedagogical communication to the stage. We may thus, purely on the communications front, simply get either a parody of abstract intellectualism driven by “religious” or “quasi-religious” agendas, or more positively, a few simple concessions of common ground that shouldn’t be too difficult for either of them to find, or to make towards each other.

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Thinking about Thinking

Metacognition as a ladder to enlightenment?

We humans are sentient beings. By some means or other, our species has ended up with, at least in our own opinion, with cognitive abilities that separate sharply from our closest living relatives, chimps and bonobos, with whom we share 99% of our genes. We have made huge advances in knowledge which we can store, share and use in scientific research, cultural development, building infrastructure, exploration, travel, transport. This huge explosion in cultural evolution needed and may be driven by that exceptional intelligence. Is there any limit to what we can achieve? I say there is.

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Is Behe’s acceptance of common descent confusing?

In his recent video Michael Behe explains the reasons for his acceptance of common descent.

Do you find it confusing?

Most members of the Discovery Institute find the idea of common descent lacking. Behe, ‘for the sake of the argument’ , is willing to accept it and, instead, focus on the mechanism of Darwinian evolution, natural selection and random mutations, as insufficient to explain evolution.

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Definitions involving “Intelligent Design”: DI Fellows’ language vs. Everyone Else’s

Not long ago in a comment here, I posted a short version of definitions involving the Discovery Institute’s “Intelligent Design” (ID) paradigm, hypothesis, movement, theory, inference, policy, heuristic, or whatever one wants to call it, depending on which person they’re speaking with. This was done because the person in the conversation I was responding to appeared to be, to me at least, quite obviously conflating two meanings into one term (thing & theory). And he didn’t seem to realize that he was doing it. (Aside: there appear to be multiple reasons why people tempted by ideological Intelligent Designism [IDism] or repelled by it, may feel they need to intentionally conflate definitions of ID.) I wondered what might be the issue with what was merely an attempt to lay out simple definitions, for mutual benefit towards clearer communications, or ‘operations’ as some people here like to call it.

Within days, to my surprise, I discovered the exact same thing in a long exchange with a Discovery Institute () Fellow on a social media platform. This person too conflated two meanings into one. Why also is that? And this person wanted to equivocate over whether or not there even is a “movement” at play, before finally conceding that yes, indeed, there is = the IDM based at the Discovery Institute in Seattle, USA. The conversation reminded me of previous ones at Uncommon Descent & BioLogos with Eddie, now of Peaceful Science and Potiphar, who only begrudgingly, after listing off a number of ways that this “Movement” could only properly or ‘officially’ be spoken about, according to his somewhat “philosophistic” definition of “Intelligent Design theory” (IDT), conceded the point of there being a “Movement”, with all of DI-CSC’s Fellows admitted as members.

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A nontechnical recap

David Nemati and Eric Holloway, “Expected Algorithmic Specified Complexity.” Bio-Complexity 2019 (2):1-10. doi:10.5048/BIO-C.2019.2. Editor: William Basener. Editor-in-Chief: Robert J. Marks II.

In Section 4 of their article, Nemati and Holloway claim to have identified an error in a post of mine. They do not cite the post, but instead name me, and link to the homepage of The Skeptical Zone. Thus there can be no question as to whether the authors regard technical material that I post here as worthy of a response in Bio-Complexity. (A year earlier, George Montañez modified a Bio-Complexity article, adding information that I supplied in precisely the post that Nemati and Holloway address.) Interacting with me at TSZ, a month ago, Eric Holloway acknowledged error in an equation that I had told him was wrong, expressed interest in seeing the next part of my review, and said, “If there is a fundamental flaw in the second half, as you claim, then I’ll retract it if it is unfixable.” I subsequently put a great deal of work into “The Old Switcheroo,” trying to anticipate all of the ways in which Holloway might wiggle out of acknowledging his errors. Evidently I left him no avenue of escape, given that he now refuses to engage at all, and insists that I submit my criticisms to Bio-Complexity.
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